Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Buying Wine

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Buying Wine

Article excerpt

When we were boys, we had a choice: stay in the car or else

follow him into Wine Mart, that cavernous retail barn,

down aisle after aisle, California reds to Australian blends

to French dessert wines, past bins loaded like bat racks

with bottles, each with its own heraldic tag, its licked coat

of arms, trailing after our father pushing the ever filling cart,

leaning forward in concentration, one hand in mouth stroking

his unkempt mustache, the other lofting up bottles like fruit

then setting them back down, weighing the store of data

in his great brain against the price tag, the year tattooed

on the bottle, the cut of meat he knew he would select

at the butcher's: a lamb chop, say, if this Umbrian red

had enough body to marry the meal's bounty, to dance

on its legs in the bell of the night; or some scallops maybe,

those languid hearts of the sea, a poet's dozen in a baggy,

and a Pinot Grigio light enough not to disturb their salty murmur.

Often, we'd stay in the car until we'd used up the radio's juke

box and our dwindling capacity to believe our father

might actually "Just be back," and so break free, releasing

from our seatbelts, drifting to the edges of the parking lot

like horses in a field following the sun to its endgame

of shade. …

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